Policy & Strategy

Intelligence officials: Snowden may be under Russia’s influence

The nation’s top intelligence officers say former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden might now be under the influence of the Russian government. 

“Yes, there is the possibility that he is under that influence,” Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn told lawmakers at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday. 

{mosads}Snowden has revealed dozens of documents and files related to NSA surveillance programs. His revelations have triggered a global outcry against the programs, and Congress has proposed legislation intended to rein them in. President Obama conducted a review of the programs and has made some changes to them.

House lawmakers are looking into whether Snowden acted under the influence of Russia, when he stole the information. Officials said last month they did not have any links yet, but intelligence officials say he might now be cooperating with Russian intelligence officials. 

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at Tuesday’s hearing said he would find it “incredulous” if Russian intelligence agents have not had conversations with Snowden and said cooperation with them now in order to continue living in Moscow is “certainly a possibility.”

Snowden initially fled to Hong Kong but has been in Russia since the summer on temporary asylum. He has repeatedly insisted he has not given any of the NSA’s materials to agents of foreign governments. 

But Intelligence officials say the leaks have caused the U.S.’s adversaries and terrorists to change their behavior to avoid detection by the U.S. 

Clapper said the vast majority of information taken by Snowden “bears on many other topics than telephone metadata,” but it is unknown how much was taken. 

“We will be accounting for this for months, maybe years ahead,” he said.

In addition, the U.S. has lost critical intelligence collection sources, and adversaries are “going to school” on intelligence methods, Clapper said. 

“The nation is less safe and its people less secure,” said Clapper. 

Flynn said the leaks have affected all four military services, and has prompted a review of the military’s activities all around the world. 

“Everything that he touched, we assume that he took — stole,” said Flynn.

Tags Edward Snowden Intelligence Michael Flynn

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